A few years ago, my husband Daniel and I felt like we were floundering and lost in our Jewish community in Los Angeles. We were shul hopping and didn’t have one synagogue we called home. We didn’t have many friends and found it hard to make them. Coming from the east coast, we didn’t have family out here, either. We were on our own.
But we were excited because Purim was coming up. Daniel, a comedian, always had gigs on the holiday, and we’d get to go to other communities and celebrate the holiday with them. We always loved meeting new faces and making friends with people from different backgrounds.
I also enjoyed Purim because we’d receive mishloach manot, the goody bags filled with homemade hamantaschen, candies, fruits and snacks that our friends would leave on our doorstep. We’d make our own and give them out to our friends, too.
If we were home on Purim day, we’d get to say hi to our friends as they dropped them off. Our dogs would bark to alert us that someone was there to greet us. It was fun catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while.
This particular year, after dropping off our mishloach manot, we had some time before Daniel’s gig. We hung out at home, and I waited for our friends to start arriving.
It was 1 p.m., and nobody had come yet, which was odd. Then, it was 2 p.m. Then 3 p.m. Every time my dogs barked, I got up excitedly and looked out my window to see if anyone was there. But no one came.
Around 4, we had to go to the gig.
We hopped in the car and I turned to Daniel and said, “It’s so strange that nobody has given us mishloach manot yet.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll have some when we get home.”
We headed off to the gig and had a good time there. And when we got home that night, I ran up to our porch. I looked at our table, where people usually left the bags. There was nothing there.
I checked the gate to see if anyone had hung them there. There was nothing.
And then, on the step by our front door, I saw one bag. I opened it up. There were candies and pretzels and shimmering paper inside, and a note that said, “Happy Purim! I love you so much. Love, Bubbe.”
Daniel came up to the front door.
“We got one,” I said, feeling the tears welling up in my eyes. “It’s from Bubbe.”
Bubbe was my friend Miriam’s mother. Even after Miriam and her family moved out of L.A., we stayed friends with Bubbe, who had driven all the way from Agoura Hills, an hour away, to deliver mishloach manot to us and her other friends.
It was late, so I texted Bubbe with a picture of the mishloach manot: “You have no idea how much this means to us. Thank you. We love you too.”
“Of course!” she texted back the next day. “How could I forget the Lobells? Hugs and kisses.”
If Bubbe hadn’t dropped off that bag, Purim would have been so much sadder that year. At the same time, it meant so much more to me to receive the one from her. Looking back, there was a lesson G-d was trying to teach me: Don’t forget your fellow Jews on Purim.
It’s important to give mishloach manot to friends – but it’s also critical to give to those who might not receive as many as other people. This could include Jews who aren’t so observant and have never gotten one, or single people who may not be as connected as families, for instance. Since that Purim, Daniel and I drop off mishloach manot to people outside of our immediate friends circle so that nobody feels the way we did. We want everyone we know to receive at least one bag.
Purim is all about joy; you are not supposed to be sad on the holiday. This Purim, find one or a few new people you can give mishloach manot to. A small deed, just one little gesture of kindness, can make all the difference in the world.